Point Aconi Coal Proposal Set for Next Phase

Environment and Labour (to April 1/08)

December 29, 2005 9:32 AM

A proposal for surface coal mining in Cape Breton's Point Aconi area must meet detailed conditions as part of the next phase of the approval process, the Department of Environment and Labour announced today, Dec. 29.

"We have listened carefully to public input on this application," said Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash. "This is reflected in the conditions we have set."

Under terms of the Environment Act, Pioneer Coal, of Antigonish, must obtain an environmental assessment approval and an industrial approval before it can begin work.

The environmental assessment approval, issued to Pioneer on Wednesday, Dec. 28, identified numerous issues that must be addressed in the next stage of the process.

"Among them, we have requested the establishment of a community liaison committee and a third-party review of groundwater management plans," Mr. Morash said.

"There also has to be a detailed and feasible plan for reclaiming the land -- while mining is still in progress -- so that we can gauge its success. Further, there has to be meaningful, effective public consultation."

Mr. Morash said the approval's conditions are required by the complexity of the site.

"We have to protect the environment, and this location presents challenging issues such as old tunnels from the Prince Mine and from illegal mining, and the protection of groundwater," he said.

The decision is available on the department's website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/ea/ .

Mr. Morash said a cumulative effects study on surface coal mining in Cape Breton, commissioned earlier this year, was used in the decision.

An environmental assessment approval must be granted if the applicant establishes that the project will have no adverse environmental effects or that adverse environmental effects can be mitigated. It is typically issued with conditions identifying potential effects and directing the proponent to address them.

An industrial approval requires a detailed, practical plan from the applicant for averting or mitigating those effects.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     A proposal for surface coal mining in Cape Breton's Point

Aconi area must meet detailed conditions set by the province

as part of the next phase of the approval process.

     Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash has issued an

environmental assessment approval, the first of two approvals

required for work to begin.

     Mr. Morash says key conditions for the approval are public

consultation in the area, and a "detailed and feasible" plan for

reclaiming the land while mining is still taking place.

He says the environmental assessment was unusually complex

for a project of its size.

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Media Contact: Bill Turpin
              Environment and Labour
              902-424-2575
              E-mail: turpinsw@gov.ns.ca